Calming the Beast : How to Serve Customers Who Can’t Serve Themselves

As I’ve shared in other posts, self-service platforms are the future of online customer service. Not only do customers expect this, but they actually prefer systems that help them solve their own problems… as long as they’re done right.

So what happens when, at least in the customer’s eyes, self-service isn’t done right? How does a customer feel after spending two hours combing through your knowledge base and coming up with nothing? Angry? Frustrated? Ready to punch the screen? How would you feel?

Visualize it. That’s precisely the emotional state they’ll be in when they pick up the phone to call your customer help line.

Now, when your service rep answers that call, they’re not just dealing with a simple customer service request. No sir. They’re going toe to toe with a frustrated customer ready for battle, who just spent 2 hours banging their head against a wall.

Is your customer service team ready for this heated encounter?

I hate to tell you this, but simply hanging a poster in your call center that reads, “Gird your loins” is not enough. You must prepare them for war. Here are two ways you can help your service team prepare to serve those who have failed to serve themselves, so you can bring all your soldiers home.

Treat Your Customer Service Representatives Like Heroes

Gone are the days when your customer service representatives were the front line in service. Now that’s what ticket deflection and self-service are for. Understand : the people manning the phones are now your last reserves. They’re the machine gun nest in front of headquarters.

And if they can’t deal with the problem, then you’re screwed.

To extend the hero analogy a bit (because it really does fit), you need to do even more than just treating your customer service reps as your heroes. More importantly, you need to treat them as your customers’ heroes.

I’ll say it again: heroes. So how do they do it?

The most powerful thing a customer service rep can do is sense the customer’s frustration with the system quickly and immediately channel it into a more fruitful direction. At a minimum, that means the folks on your customer service team must become product experts who know how to relate to customers as individuals with unique and difficult problems to solve.

Believe me, if your support representative can help a customer succeed quickly at something they tried and failed to do for hours, not only will they come off as a hero, but all that pain and frustration aimed squarely at your brand will dissipate on its own. They become those who saved the day.

So how do you do equip them to do that?

Invest in Customer Service Representative Training

To develop and nurture the kind of customer service hero you need for the self-service era, you must think carefully about how to upgrade your battalion from customer service generalists to code-slinging, product-knowing, customer-whispering brand wizards.

As we’ve mentioned before, the ticket deflection accomplished by an efficient self-service system will significantly lower your overhead for staff resources and workforce hours. What will you do with that savings?

Only a short-sighted manager would take all that money and distribute it elsewhere. But since you’re reading this post, I know that’s not you. You’re a wise business leader that will invest as much of those resources as possible in further training for your customer service and support staff. Won’t you?

While self-service solutions allow you to streamline your efforts and provide a seamless, helpful experience for your customers, nothing is perfect. Customers will fall through the cracks. It’s up to your customer service team to catch them when they do, and it’s up to you to make sure they’re trained and ready to make that catch.

Give your team the tools they need to save those customers and transform their experience from one of frustration to one of gratification. When they do, they’ll not only save a customer from turning their back on your business but turn them into a raving fan.

What are you doing to prepare your customer service representatives for the future in online customer service? Let us know in the comment section below.